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Film / Raiders of the Lost Ark

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Indiana Jones

Raiders of the Lost Ark is a 1981 adventure film and the first entry in the Indiana Jones series. After the release of its sequels, it has also been retroactively called Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. It is directed by Steven Spielberg, with the screenplay written by Lawrence Kasdan and the story written by the film's executive producer George Lucas and Philip Kaufman.

A few years before World War II, Nazi Germany was searching for supernatural artifacts. In this case, they were searching for The Ark of the Covenant, which held the remains of the tablets of the Ten Commandments. After getting word of this, Dr. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford in his second iconic role) is sent to recover it, due to him knowing some people that had clues to where the Ark is held.

This leads him and his old girlfriend Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) on a wild chase involving fighting bad guys in a burning bar, fighting bad guys on moving trucks, and killer sand ghosts.

And that's not even taking into account what he has to go through in the prologue, which involves the iconic boulder escape scene.

The film also features Paul Freeman as René Belloq, a rival archaeologist from France; Ronald Lacey as Arnold Toht, a sinister Gestapo agent; John Rhys-Davies as Sallah, Indy's Egyptian sidekick; Denholm Elliott as Marcus Brody, a fellow archaeologist and museum curator; and Alfred Molina in his film debut as Satipo, Indy's Peruvian guide.

The film itself was a massive hit, but due to the Troubled Productions of Star Wars, and Jaws, studios were reluctant to fund a film by both Lucas and Spielberg, despite those respective films also being massive hits. Paramount eventually agreed to fund the film, although the series belongs to Lucasfilm (and now to Disney). While the production faced some hiccups (mainly the majority of the crew being ill in Tunisia), it wrapped ahead of time and on-budget (something Spielberg felt was important). Kasdan was brought in to write a screenplay based on ideas born during story meetings between Lucas, Spielberg and Kasdan. The screenplay was so good that Lucas asked Kasdan to write the final draft of the first Star Wars sequel, The Empire Strikes Back.

The film is followed in chronological order by Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and in production order by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Tropes… Why Did It Have to be Tropes:

  • Action Dress Rip: Marion when trapped in the Well of Souls with Indy, to use the strips of cloth to light the torches and scare off the snakes.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • When Belloq's Mooks are about to gun down Indiana in the bar, Sallah saves him by having his children come rushing in and declaring that "Uncle Indy" must come home with them immediately. Many of the minions (still holding their rifles and guns) can't help but laugh and smile at the ploy, and even Belloq seems amused by the situation.
    • Again with Bellog when Marion pulls a knife on him so she can escape. Justified because he's rather drunk from Marion's attempt to drink him into unconsciousness.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The novelization says that Marion was only fifteen when Indiana Jones first got involved with her (he was only 20-something, but it's still pretty creepy), which explains her "I was a child!" line. The novelization actually expands on Indy's evident thing for younger women — early on, he's having a fling with one of his students. Marcus picks up on this, and implies that it's not the first time Indy's done this.
  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis: While Indiana Jones is exploring the native temple, he comes across a trap that operates on the principle of an "electric eye" device. When a beam of sunlight is interrupted, the trap sends out spears that impale whoever broke the beam. The Hovitos must be centuries ahead of their time, since it would take modern electronic equipment to do so.
  • Advertising by Association: The original poster (see above), teaser and TV spots name-drop some blockbusters that Spielberg and Lucas had previously directed or wrote individually, such as Jaws and Star Wars. Notably, it leaves out Spielberg's actual previous film, 1941, which had been an infamous flop.
  • After-Action Patch-Up: After a day spent fighting off an entire cavern full of snakes, fistfights with multiple soldiers, getting shot, being dragged by a truck and more, Indy's body is a complete wreck and every time Marion tries to help him clean any of his wounds or put on or change bandages he winces or exclaims in pain until finally an exasperated Marion asks the big question.
    Marion: Well, goddammit, Indy, where doesn't it hurt?!
  • All for Nothing:
    • In the opening segment, due to Belloq’s intervention, Indy fails in his quest to retrieve the golden idol of the Hovitos and barely escapes with his life.
    • Implied by the ending where Indy is told the Ark is being handled by "top men" (meaning Indy's accomplishment in finding it is barely being acknowledged), and the final shot shows the Ark enclosed in a crate and stored away in a massive, seemingly endless warehouse full of identical-looking crates—meaning it's going to be ignored. It hasn't fallen into the Nazis' hands, but in essence it remains lost and buried just as it was to begin with.
    • Marion's escape attempt from Belloq's tent, where she makes use of her talent at drinking large quantities of liquor and staying relatively sober, abruptly fails. Belloq held his liquor better than she had planned for, thus she was far more drunk than she had planned when she made her attempt. When she does make her attempt, Toht appears at the entrance the moment she's about to leave. It also isn't clear she would have gotten very far even if she had successfully escaped the tent, as the place is crawling with Nazis, she'd be without any supplies beyond a knife, and she isn't exactly dressed in a way that would help her survive a night in the desert. And she's drunk.
  • All There in the Manual: The novelization reveals a few things...
    • Marion was only fifteen years old when she and Indy (who was in his twenties at the time) began their relationship. This explains her "I was a child! It was wrong and you knew it!" comment.
    • Marion also has something of a Dark and Troubled Past with regards to the bar she runs in Nepal (which is revealed to be called "The Raven"). Rather than it being left to her by her father (as viewers of the film might reasonably assume), it's mentioned in the novel that she actually started working there in order to make ends meet after Abner died, and that she "wasn't exactly the bartender" — no more is said, but the obvious implication is that she was obliged to prostitute herself. She took over the place after the previous owner "went crazy".
    • Indy's owning of a bullwhip is explained by the fact that he was fascinated by the whip act in a travelling circus he saw when he was seven; he subsequently obtained one himself and spent many hours perfecting the art of how to use it. Marion recalls him practising with "that ratty old whip" every day. This, of course, would later be retconned by the prologue sequence of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (although said retcon does also involve a travelling circus).
    • The headpiece to the Staff of Ra is (also) engraved with a warning not to look inside the Ark of the Covenant (such advice can also be found in The Bible), which is how Indy knew to close his eyes when the Nazis opened it. Belloq spent several hours making a copy from the burn mark on Toht's hand, and so only knew what was engraved on one side of it.
    • Belloq doesn't much care for the Nazis — in the novel, he is revealed to have met Adolf Hitler himself, and was unimpressed. This disdain does not, of course, stop him from working with them to recover the Ark, with which he is obsessed note .
    • The rivalry between Indy and Belloq goes all the way back to graduate school where Belloq stole Indy's research while Indy was conducting his, ah, extracurricular activities with his tutor's daughter. This also explains why Marion and Belloq are on a first name basis, as — being a student of the same subject at the same institution as Indy — he'd've known the Ravenwoods too.
    • Indy manages to stow away on the U-boat without drowning by using his whip to tie himself to the periscope (although in the film, he isn't carrying it when he boards the sub.)
    • The base and the U-boat, along with its crew, were also destroyed by the Ark.
  • All There in the Script:
    • Toht's name is only revealed in the credits and in an old TV ad, and much, much later in LEGO Indiana Jones.
    • According to the script, Abner Ravenwood was killed in an avalanche (a detail which also gets a mention in the novelization).
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Numerous vehicles, weapons and accessories which did not exist in 1936; this has its own page.
    • Maps appear showing Thailand, which was called Siam until 1939, and Jordan, which was called Transjordan until 1949.
  • And Starring: Denholm Elliott (Marcus Brody) has this credit.
  • Animal Espionage: The Nazis and Belloq attempt to have a monkey spy on Indy, but the attempt fails when it eats a poisoned date and dies. This alerts Sallah, who stops Indy eating one.
  • Apple for Teacher: A student places a green apple on Indy's desk as his class leaves the room.
  • Appropriated Title: The movie was released as just Raiders of the Lost Ark, while subsequent installments would establish the Character Name and the Noun Phrase convention for the series. Home media releases changed the display title for this film to match, resulting in the rather long Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (and wasn't Indy among the titular "raiders"?). The original title is still retained onscreen in the movie itself, however.
  • Archaeological Arms Race: This is alluded to, since both the US Army Intelligence and the Nazis might want to use the Ark as a weapon (although it's more of a powerful spiritual artifact than lost technology). More directly to the "arms race" portion, US Intelligence gets wind that Hitler is looking for the Ark, and decides that if he wants it, it's in their best interests to make sure he doesn't get it.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Like all reptiles, snakes are ectothermic animals, meaning they're attracted to sources of outside heat, not warded off by it. invokedWord of God didn't realize this, so a "making of special" shows Steven Spielberg humorously scolding a snake for messing up a scene. There's also the fact that most of the snakes are harmless non-Egyptian species including a European Glass Lizard, which isn't even a snake.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • The Nazis have a vast base complete with soldiers and airplanes in Egypt, which had a strong British military presence at the time. Ditto for the hidden U-Boat base in the Aegean — Germany didn't occupy Greece until 1941 (their ally Italy held Rhodes and the Dodecanese, but whether they would have allowed a German U-Boat base on one of the smaller islands is another question).
    • Tanis, one of the ancient capitals of Egypt, is depicted as having been a lost city since antiquity, which Abner Ravenwood had more or less dedicated his life to locating, and Indy reacts with consternation upon learning that the Nazis have re-discovered it. In real life Tanis has never been a lost city; located in the Nile Delta north-east of Cairo, it was first studied in 1798 during Napoleon Bonaparte's Egyptian campaign, and was the site of numerous archaeological excavations in the 19th century.
    • Contrary to what the US government agents say at the beginning of the movie, Hitler was not obsessed with the occult, although other Nazis (notably SS chief Heinrich Himmler) were. In fact, historians largely believe that he was for the most part openly scornful of occultism and mysticism, similar to his views on religion, and he seems to have regarded archaeology in general as a waste of time. That said, he was OK with the search for legendary relics because of their propaganda value.
    • The Gestapo, of which Toht is evidently a member (what with the black leather overcoat), was dedicated to internal security within Nazi Germany (and, later, the territories it conquered). There's no way one of its agents would be sent on a mission to Nepal as part of an operation in Egypt. It would make more sense for Toht to be an agent of the SD (SS intelligence) or the Ahnenerbe. He was probably presented as a Gestapo agent because as far as sinister Nazi organisations go, it's much more widely known.
  • Artistic License – Religion: Marcus speculates that the Nazis want the Ark because "an army that carries the Ark before it is invincible." In the Bible, every time the army of Israel carried the Ark into battle without God's specific direction to do so, they were soundly trounced and usually lost the Ark as well. For the capturing nation, at best, it would remain inert. At worst... well, let's just say it was usually hastily returned, often with a request to please ask the Lord to stop smiting them now. Although Hitler did say several things in real life indicating that he believed he was specifically directed by God to take over the world. Whether it was a lie he used to motivate his followers or he actually believed it is up for debate. Belloq also made the fatal mistake of getting all the ritual gear right but missing the multiple clear warnings not to look in it.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Although the Nazis speak German in many scenes, most of the lines were redubbed for the German versions of the film as the actors spoke very bad German, with a strong American accent. They were redubbed by native German speakers for later DVD and Blu-Ray releases of the film.
  • Assassin Outclassin': In the film's opening scene, Indy has just finished reuniting the two pieces of map when Satipo's partner Barranca attempts to shoot him in the back. However, Indy hears the gun's hammer and deploys his whip, knocking the gun out of Barranca's hand and forcing him to flee.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The traitorous guide Satipo gets killed by the very traps he helped Jones escape. His buddy Barranca, who tried to kill Indy first, doesn't fare much better as he gets shot with numerous poisoned darts.
    • Belloq, Toht and Dietrich attempt to tamper with the Ark, with grisly consequences.
  • Attack the Injury: When Indy attempts to hijack the truck carrying the Ark, he fends off multiple German soldiers who try to take it back, but one of them finally gets a shot off and hits Indy in the shoulder. Moments later the last soldier left manages to make it into the truck's compartment and makes it a point to repeatedly punch Indy in the injured shoulder before trying to finish him off by throwing Indy out of the truck.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: Inverted. To avoid the film getting an R rating, the filmmakers had to add a wall of fire to slightly obscure Belloq when his head explodes in the Opening of the Ark scene.
  • Badass Boast: Indy delivers one of the best in cinema history to Belloq after he thinks Marion is dead, and it is ice cold.
    Belloq: Jones, do you realize what the Ark is? It's a transmitter. It's a radio for speaking to God, and it's within my reach.
    Indy: You wanna talk to God? Let's go see Him together. I've got nothing better to do.
  • Bait-and-Switch: A huge part of the plot; the basket with Marion inside is put on a truck loaded with explosives, which crashes and explodes. Much later, Indy finds her alive, realizing, "They must've switched baskets."
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: During the fight in Marion's bar, one of the mooks points a gun at Indy, and there's a gunshot. Indy realizes he isn't hurt, and the mook keels over, revealing Marion behind him holding a smoking gun.
  • Bang, Bang, BANG: Used intentionally to provide "heroic" and "villainous" gunshot motifs. Note that every pistol Indy uses (from his spare 9mm Browning Hi-Power in the bar fight to his trademark revolver) produces the exact same sound, a huge "kaboom" that was actually a recording of a .30-30 rifle.
  • Bar Brawl: Marion's bar is destroyed as the result of one of these, which includes a lot of burning drink and a full-scale shoot-out.
  • Bat Scare: A flock of birds emerges from a statue's mouth, startling one of Indy's jungle porters.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: Indy and Marion fight against Toht and his henchmen while surrounded by fire inside the bar.
  • Bear Hug: Sallah gives Indy a big good-bye hug — which Indy would've appreciated more had he not recently gotten the crap beaten out of him by a whole platoon of Nazis.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: Sallah builds a rope for Indy in the tomb made from Nazi flags.
  • Berserk Button: Don't tell Marion what to do in her own house. Unfortunately, she says this to Nazis.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Technically all three antagonists are working for the Greater-Scope Villain Adolf Hitler, but all three have their own authorities and agendas - Belloq is in charge of the actual archaeological side of things which the other two are clueless about, Dietrich provides the military muscle and is nominally in charge but would be ineffectual without Belloq in his mission, and Toht is more of a specialist Torture Technician probably on loan from either the Gestapo or the SS and not necessarily a subordinate to Dietrich if he is part of a separate command structure. All three die together, killed by the Ark while standing as equals over it, with Belloq- the least powerful- being in the centre of the group between the other two.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Just when Toht is about to torture Marion with a red hot poker, it is ripped from his hand by a bullwhip with Indiana Jones at the other end, ready for battle.
    • A more Played for Laughs example in the bar—Indiana is about to be gunned down when Sallah's children show up to retrieve "Uncle Indy". Belloq finds it amusing enough to hold his fire.
      Belloq: Next time, Dr. Jones, it will take more than children to save you!
    • God Himself after destroying Belloq and The Nazis, also burned the rope that tied Indy and Marion up.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Between Marion and Indy on the boat after their After-Action Patch-Up.
  • Big "NO!": While the Nazis are sliding the stone block to seal off the Well of Souls (with Indy and Marion inside), Marion yells "Noooo!" The sound is abruptly cut off when the block slides into place.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • The Nazi officer who finds Indiana at the U-boat base says, in German: "Good day. Tired? Why do you sleep? Wash yourself! And straighten your shirt, so that you don't look like a pig at your court martial. Stand up..." *punch*
    • Before opening the Ark, Belloq recites an actual Jewish prayer that is said when opening the Torah ark in synagogue (though his pronunciation is hilariously off).
  • Binocular Shot: Indy scans the Nazi dig site with a surveyor's transit to find where the Well of Souls is hidden.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Ark, a legendary historical artifact of considerable academic, scientific, and religious interest, is locked up in a warehouse, never to be heard from again. On the other hand, a bunch of Nazis are dead, Indy and Marion have patched up their relationship, and considering the sheer threat the Ark possesses to any living being, is its disappearance really such a bad thing?
  • Blatant Lies: After the Ark's recovery:
    Major Eaton: We have top men working on it right now.
    Indy: Who?
    Eaton: Top... men.
    • The Ark ends up occupying a storage crate where it is never heard from again until it makes a cameo appearance in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in the Area 51 warehouse.
  • Bloody Horror: The Wrath of God scene at the end of the movie—Toht's face melts with the skin and blood evaporating off his face.
  • Booby Trap: The temple in the opening scene is full of these. Examples include: a light-sensitive spike trap, walls that shoot darts, a Collapsing Lair, and a giant rolling boulder.
  • Booked Full of Mooks: In Cairo, Indiana Jones is told that someone in a local bar wishes to speak with him. Indy walks inside and finds his arch-rival Rene Belloq. They spar verbally for a bit until Indy gets pissed enough to pull out his gun and threaten Belloq—at which point every Arab in the bar draws their own gun and takes aim at Indy.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Indy kills a Mook on fire with a shot to the head.
  • Brownface: Played straight with Toht's henchman in Nepal known as the Ratty Nepalese. Malcolm Weaver, the stuntman who plays him, is in full makeup and prosthetics to appear Nepalese. Strangley somewhat averted with Pat Roach who in the same sequence plays the Giant Sherpa, despite the fact that his character is also meant to be Nepalese.
  • Brown Note: Do not gaze directly into the opened Ark. Whatever is inside The Ark of the Covenant melts the faces of the people who look at it when the cover comes off.
  • Bullet Sparks: During the bar shootout.
  • Celebrity Cameo: Special effects artist Dennis Muren is a Nazi reading an issue of Life magazine. Some people mistook him for Toht.
  • Chain Lightning: This depiction of the Ark generates an electrical effect that jumps from person to person and even the Nazis' electronic equipment.
  • Chased by Angry Natives: In the opening, after Indy escapes the temple, Belloq sets the Hovitos natives after him for stealing their idol.
  • Chase Stops at Water: In the opening scene, Indy is chased to the riverside and manages to escape in a seaplane.
  • Chekhov's Gun: During the fight in Marion's bar, Toht tries to grab the medallion from a fire - and, not surprisingly, burns his hand. The burn marks on his hand allow the Nazis to translate one half of the medallion.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Marion's Establishing Character Moment shows her drinking a large, burly brute under the table. She later uses her hard-drinking ability to get Belloq drunk in an attempt to escape from him. Subverted when it turns out Belloq isn't too shabby at holding his liquor himself, forcing her to go to plan B (grab a knife and try to duck out).
  • Children as Pawns: A heroic Human Shield version, where Indy finds himself surrounded by armed Arabs in a Cairo bar. Sallah saves him by sending a group of children into the bar who swarm around Indy and lead him out of the place with the baddies unable to interfere. Watch the scene here.
  • Cobweb Jungle: The entrance to the Idol Temple is littered with cobwebs complete with absurdly out of place tarantulas. ("Never too-covered" is avoided: as Indy runs from the giant boulder, he goes through a door-wide web).
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • Toht seems to enjoy this, even if the subject is willing to talk without torture:
    Marion: I'll tell you everything!
    Toht: [advances with red hot poker] Yes, I know you will.
    • Subverted on another occasion between Toht and Marion, where he approaches her while assembling what appears to be a nunchuck-type device — which turns out to be a hanger for his overcoat.
  • Collapsing Lair: The Chachapoyan temple starts collapsing after Indy swaps the golden statue for a bag of sand.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • One of the most famous examples in all of film; Indy, after going through a lengthy fight and chase sequence, is approached by a villainous swordsman who proceeds to show off a few fancy sword moves with a scimitar. Indy opts simply to pull out his gun and shoot the swordsman. (This wasn't in the original script and was a suggestion by Harrison Ford who had dysentery at the time of the scene and wasn't up for the scripted fight.)
    • In the scene where he fights the Giant Mook mechanic by the plane, Indy practically runs down a checklist of pragmatic/dirty fighting moves. Pulling a Look Behind You and then launching a surprise Groin Attack? Check. Biting? Check. (And bonus points for it not being a last resort either.) A fistfull of sand to the eyes? Check. Attempting to reach his fallen gun with the apparent intention of shooting a completely unarmed man? Check! And, finally, Indy "defeats" him by serving as another distraction until the guy realizes too late that he's directly in the path of a spinning propeller.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • Jones just happens to have an illustrated Bible at an impromptu meeting with a couple of intelligence people, when neither party had any idea that the Ark was even going to feature in the conversation.
    • Of all the tents at the dig site, Indy stumbles directly into the one where Marion is kept.
    • The secret room in the Well of Souls just happens to have a loose stone in the wall that lets Indy and Marian escape back outside directly overlooking the airfield with the flying wing just before the Nazis are going to load the ark on the plane for its flight to Berlin.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Averted. When Toht goes to pick up the medallion in the burning bar, it has become hot enough to cause massive burns to his hand, despite not touching any flames. Marion has the good sense to pick it up using a handkerchief.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Marion shoots one of Toht's henchmen in the back before he can shoot Indy.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • Producer Frank Marshall is a pilot knocked out by Marion.
    • Harrison Ford's stunt double Terry Leonard appears as a Nazi truck driver.
    • Stunt coordinator Glenn Randall, Jr., appears as a mechanic.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: At the end of the fight scene with the mechanic, Indy is losing but makes one final effort to win the fight, getting more aggressive (including literally roaring) and manages to punch the mechanic right in the face with several big blows. The mechanic still beats him but is visibly bloody afterwards, the first time that he's really shown much of an effect from Indy's punches.
  • Cutlery Escape Aid: While Marion is drinking brandy with Belloq, she grabs a table knife in order to escape. The attempt fails because of the arrival of Major Toht and the Nazi guards.
  • Dangerous Backswing: During the street fight in Cairo, one of the Mooks accidentally hits his comrade when he winds up to hit Indy with a piece of wood.
  • The Day the Music Lied: During his fight with the Giant Mook, there's a bit where Indy sees his fallen gun lying on the ground, and a triumphant version of his theme song starts playing, and he tries to go for the gun with the intent of using it to end his fight... and then he's cut off from reaching it and the theme song peters out almost immediately.
  • Dead Foot Leadfoot:
    • After Indy shoots the truck driver in Cairo, the truck keeps moving forward until it hits an obstacle and tips over.
    • When Marion knocks out the pilot of the Nazi plane, he slumps forward onto the controls and the plane starts moving forward.
  • Dead Guy Puppet: After escaping the temple, Indy finds one of the guides from earlier along with several angry natives who knock down to reveal that the guide's back is riddled with arrows.
  • Deadly Dodging: At one point during the fight in Cairo, a bad guy attempts to stab Indy with his sword. Indy dodges the attack, causing him to stick a second bad guy with the blade.
  • Deadly Dust Storm: According to Dr. Marcus Brody, an Egyptian pharaoh took the Ark of the Covenant to the city of Tanis. A year later, Tanis was destroyed by a sand storm that lasted an entire year—"Wiped clean by the wrath of God."
  • Deadly Rotary Fan: One of the most iconic in cinema, when the Giant Mook gets turned to chunky salsa by the airplane propeller.
  • Death by Materialism: A running theme in the Indy series.
    • Indy's scout in the beginning who seizes the statue but gets Impaled with Extreme Prejudice offscreen. Indy then finds his Peek-a-Boo Corpse.
    • Also, the Nazis get this on a literally Biblical scale when they find out why you're not supposed to open the Ark.
  • Death Course: The temple in the opening sequence is a Malevolent Architecture, including a corridor with arrows shooting from the walls, Spikes of Doom and a giant rolling stone ball.
  • Delaying the Rescue: Indie finds Marion Bound and Gagged in the Nazi camp, but leaves her tied up so he can search for the titular ark without the added complication of search parties looking for Marion.
  • Desperate Object Catch: Sallah grabs a date in midair, just short of Indy's mouth, when Jones casually tosses it up to eat it. A fortunate catch too, as dates from the same bowl had just poisoned the monkey to death in seconds.
  • Deus ex Machina: A literal example, in that God strikes down the Nazis for opening the Ark of the Covenant, defeating them while our heroes are helpless.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Belloq casts his lot in with an organization of anti-Semites hell-bent on eradicating the people who originally built and kept the Ark in deference to their God, all the while gleefully gloating to Indy that the Ark can allow him to communicate with said God. At the end of the day the rabbinical robes and torah reading were comparatively lighter blasphemies...
  • Did They or Didn't They?:
    • "I was a child; I was in love! It was wrong and you knew it!" It's not made clear how far Indy and Marion's relationship went back in the day.
    • It's also not explicit what happened overnight on the freighter, since Indy fell asleep earlier, although Marion being nude under the covers in the morning is a hint that he woke up again.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: Downplayed. In the film's opening scene we see Indy reuniting two pieces of a map that apparently lead the way to the gold idol.
  • Disney Villain Death: Gobler and some Nazi pals wind up flying off a cliff in their car.
  • Distant Reaction Shot: As Indy and Marion are on the ship out of Egypt, Indy is looking in one side of a double-sided mirror. Marion, looking in the other side, flips it around, banging Indy hard in the face. Cut to a distant shot of the ship with Indy's scream of pain audible.
    Marion: What'd you say?
  • Doomed New Clothes: The dress Marion gets from Belloq gets burned, shredded, and dirtied in the escape from the Well of Souls.
  • Doomed Predecessor: At the beginning, Indiana Jones is well aware he's not the first person to find the lost temple in Peru. When he finds it, he says "This is it. This is where Forrestall cashed in." While navigating the temple, Indy intentionally triggers a spike trap to find Forrestall's corpse impaled on it.
  • Dramatic Thunder: Rolls in the background when Indy and Sallah discover the ark at the tomb.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Double Subverted. The first guard Indy knocks out in the sub pen is too skinny for his shirt to fit. Fortunately, a larger specimen turns up to scold him for being "out of uniform"...
  • Drinking Contest: Marian's introduction comes as she is winning a drinking contest. Later, she attempts to use this skill to get her captor, Belloq, drunk, and escape. Unfortunately, Belloq was much better at holding his liquor than she was prepared for, apparently having grown up on a vineyard.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: After Indy believes Marion to have died in the explosion in Cairo, we cut to him mourning at a table sipping on a glass of whisky.
  • Durable Deathtrap: The deathtraps in the temple avert this, as they're apparently maintained by the Hovitos. Well, someone had to reset the spike trap that got Forrestal.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness
    • It's the only entry in the series to have been originally released with a title not beginning Indiana Jones and the.... Subsequent rereleases, however, have added those words to the title for consistency with the later films (though the 2023 re-release does use the original title).
    • It's relatively more serious in tone than any of its sequels. While it has its share of laughs, most of these consist of brief, dryly humorous moments (like the iconic shooting-the-swordsman scene), compared with the fairly constant banter and even slapstick elements that characterized the sequels. Related to this it ends on a bittersweet note with the US Government confiscating the Ark and Marion taking a dejected Indy out for a drink to try and cheer him up. The next three films all have considerably more upbeat endings.
    • Brody is presented in this film as an older version of Indiana Jones who retired from field work. Brody himself states if it had been five years earlier would have gone after the Ark himself and it's implied he would've stood a reasonable chance of successfully recovering the artifact.Fast forward a couple years and we see a man who is completely out of his element in the field and once got lost in his own museum.
    • It's become a meme that Indy never loses his fedora, but in Raiders, Marion takes off his hat aboard the Bantu Wind and he never got it back before he snuck onto the U-boat. When he has the meeting in Washington at the end of the movie, he's wearing a different gray fedora that matches his suit (which is the proper fashion for wearing fedoras). We aren't shown how he got the hat back in time for the movies that take place later.
    • Indy is portrayed as far more cynical, greedy, and morally ambiguous in this film compared to the sequels. Examples include falling out with his mentor over having an affair with his underage daughter, and then later abandoning her to the Nazis because rescuing her would make it more difficult to get the Ark. When Belloq says that it would take only a nudge to make Indy more like himself, he's not far off.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: The first time we see Indy's face is when he steps forward from an overshadowed spot in the forrest.
  • Enemy Mine: Indy and the thug after Toht orders another thug to shoot them both; they work together to shoot the other thug and then immediately go back to fighting one another.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • The iconic temple cold open is basically one long example of this for Indy.
    • "Dr. Jones. Again you see there is nothing you can possess which I cannot take away. And you thought I'd given up." Belloq's entire personality and shared history with Indy laid out in three sentences.
    • Marion drinking a huge mountain climber under the table and then punching Indy in the face.
    • The first thing Major Toht does after giving up his pretense of affability is to go for a hot fire poker and have his men hold Marion still - not so he can extract the information from her through torture, but just because he can.
  • Ethereal Choir: The Ark theme includes this when the moments get really dramatic.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Indy sees all the light sources and cameras the Nazis set up exploding and realizes the Ark doesn't want to be looked upon. Perhaps making the connection to 1 Samuel 6:19.
    • An earlier moment is when Indy and Sallah are having a man translate the inscriptions on the Headpiece of the Staff of Ra. Sallah had earlier informed Indy that the Nazis were making an excavation at a site they believed the Ark of the Covenant might be buried, having made a duplicate headpiece (later revealed to have been based from the burns on Toht's hand from his failed attempt to recover said medallion in Nepal), with markings on one side. The translated instructions on the front spell out, among other things, the length of the staff at six kadams (72 inches according to Indy). But, there is another instruction on the back to shorten the staff by one kadam. Indy realises (after confirming with Sallah that the counterfeit headpiece only had the markings on one side) that the Nazis had apparently missed out this extra instruction, meaning:
      Indy: Belloq's staff is too long.
      Indy and Sallah: They're digging in the wrong place!
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Belloq isn't pleased with Toht tossing Marion in the Well of Souls. And rivalry (and prior attempts to kill and steal from him) aside, he seems to generally admire and respect Indy, even openly acknowledging that Indy is better. When the Well of Souls is sealed he can't even manage a Bond One-Liner, and simply bids him a melancholy "adieu".
    • Oberst Herman Dietrich is disgusted by Simon Katanga's implied desire to sell Marion into sexual slavery, although Katanga is deliberately lying to him to buy Indy time to escape. And that objection might be more ideological than humanitarian; a Nazi would hardly like the idea of a black man having sexual authority over a white woman.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: University professor Indy is being openly lusted over by all his female students, and then one of the males leaves an apple on his desk.
  • Evil Laugh: Belloq, after sending the Hovitos to kill an escaping Indiana.
  • Faceless Goons: The henchmen in Cairo snatching Marion have their faces covered in black veils.
  • Facial Horror: Belloq, Toht, and Dietrich really shouldn't have looked inside the Ark.
  • Fanservice: A captive Marion undressing after Belloq gives her a dress, giving us a brief glimpse of her bare back in his mirror. The dress also does very nice things for her gams.
  • Fatal MacGuffin: During the climax, the Nazis take Jones and Marion to an area where the Ark will be opened and tie them to a post to observe. Dressed as an Israelite priest, Belloq performs a ceremonial opening of the Ark by invoking a standard Sabbath prayer, and finds it full of sand, possibly all that is left of the Ten Commandments. As Indy warns Marion to keep her eyes shut, spirits emerge from the Ark, eventually revealing themselves to be angels of death. Flames then form above the opened Ark and bolts of energy shoot through the gathered Nazi soldiers, killing them all. In the extreme heat, Dietrich's head shrivels up; all the flesh on Toht's face melts off his skull; and Belloq's head explodes. Flames then engulf and vaporize the remains of the doomed assembly, save for Jones and Marion, in a whirlwind of fire before the Ark seals itself shut.
  • Feet-First Introduction: The first thing we see of Belloq is his booted feet stepping over Barranca's darted body and walking up to Indy.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Before leaving America, Indy expresses his disbelief in the supernatural to Marcus, notable after the fact because he told his class a few hours ago to not ignore folklore surrounding dig sites, and he immediately writes off all mysticism and faith-based info surrounding the Ark. Doubled down on after the release of Temple of Doom, in which Indy witnesses relatively conclusive evidence of supernatural religious phenomena. Possibly Justified if he's just trying to pull some Obfuscating Stupidity and not wanting word to get out in academia that the famous archaeologist Indiana Jones 100% believes in the existence of the supernatural.
  • Follow the Chaos: After he has seen Indy buried alive in the Well of Souls, Belloq looks around at the burning airfield and destroyed plane.
    Belloq: Jones!
  • Forced Friendly Fire: Played with in the bar fight when Indiana Jones is wrestling for a gun with a mook. When a second mook gets the order to shoot them both, Indy and his adversary work together to fire off several shots at the second mook.
  • Foreign Cuss Word:
    • Gobler yells "Ah, Scheisse!" when getting rammed off the road by Indy. The sergeant on the truck growls the same after losing his last guy.
    • And Belloq five minutes later uttering "putain!" when his driver restarts the car while he's still standing in it and throws him off balance.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When the film goes to all that effort to reveal so many deadly booby traps in the jungle temple and that they all still work, it's inevitable that they're going to get set off and additional unseen deadly traps will be released.
    • We don't really see outright supernatural stuff in the film, until the Ark is on the cargo ship, and the box containing it suddenly gets partly burned, blackening out the swastika, and just the swastika, showing exactly what God thinks of the Nazis and why not having respect for the Ark's power is a BAD idea.
    • The wind picks up when the interpreter reads the true height of the staff off of the headpiece of the staff of Ra. Later, the multiple lightning strikes across the sky when Indy and his men are uncovering the Well of Souls are heavy hints that God is less than pleased that the ark is being recovered.
    • The propeller from the plane comes into play twice before it slices the Giant Mook to pieces. First, before taking on the Giant Mook, Indy fights a regular sized mechanic who attacks him with a wrench. The fight ends just after Indy wrestles the wrench into the path of the propeller, which cuts off the head of the wrench. The second time, Indy himself almost runs head-first right into the propeller during the middle of the fight with the Giant Mook.
    • Major Toht burns his hand horribly when he grabs the medallion out of the fire in Marion's bar. He really should have learned his lesson the first time, because the next time he touches a sacred artifact, the consequences for him are even more severe.
    • In the map room, the words "Nicht stören" or "Do not disturb" are painted on the (presumed) location of the Well of Souls and Ark. Whoever left that message should've taken that advice to heart.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: If you look carefully at the shot where the Germans are disembarking from the submarine you'll notice that Marion's guard has one arm in a sling and is covered in bandages.
  • Fresh Clue: In the Action Prologue Indiana is leading an archaeological expedition in the Peruvian jungle. They find a poison dart and one of the bearers, Satipo, tastes the tip and determines how close the local indigenous tribe is.
    Satipo: The Hovitos are near. [tastes the dart, then spits] The poison is still fresh. Three days. They're following us.
  • Fruit Cart: Inevitably destroyed at the chase scene on the Cairo market.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: When Indy and Marion are attacked in the marketplace, Marion grabs a large iron frying pan off a stall and knocks out one of the attackers with it.
  • Get Out!: Said by Marion when she angrily throws Indy out of her tavern.
  • Go-Go Enslavement: Belloq convinces his captive Marion to put on a fancy dress that he just happens to have with him.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Marion and Belloq having a drinking game while she is held hostage. Despite her obvious intentions of escaping, judging by their laughing, they are having fun in doing so, Belloq even laughing when Marion pulls a knife on him.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The camera cuts away as the Giant Mook gets turned into red paste, only showing the splash of blood on a swastika. This is occasionally edited out of broadcast versions, but it's anyone's guess if they're editing out the blood or the swastika itself. The mook who is run over by Indy's truck gets a Scenery Censor, as well. During most of the film, though, the writers love creative ways of including gore.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Hitler never appears, but his Nazis' plot to find the Ark is all part of his plan for world domination. In the novelization, Belloq gets to meet Hitler for a short briefing before setting out to find the Ark for him. However this is described as Offscreen Villainy as it is just narrated through Belloq's memories of the meeting a few moments before.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: During the bar fight, Indy asks Marion for a bottle of whiskey, which he smashes on the mook holding him against the bar.
  • Groin Attack: Indy tries it on the Giant Mook during the flying wing fight and fails. He tries it later on a Nazi officer in a U-Boat base and succeeds.
  • A Handful for an Eye: During the flying wing fight, the Giant Mook knocks Indy to the ground and he scoops up an handful of sand which he throws in the mook's face.
  • Hand Signals: Indy gestures to Satipo to turn around so he can brush a bunch of tarantulas off his back.
  • He Knows Too Much: The reason the Nazis were obliterated by The Ark is because it destroys those who witness its power. Indy and Marion are spared only because they kept their eyes shut.
  • Heroes Fight Barehanded: Subverted: After beating the asses of several opponents, Indy is sick of fighting. So when another opponent steps up with a sword and starts twirling it around, Indy just pulls a revolver on him.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Indy steals a horse from a tent in Tanis so he could catch up with the Nazis who are driving away with the Ark.
  • High-Speed Hijack: Indy hijacks the truck carrying the Ark of the Covenant from horseback, then uses it to bust up the rest of the convoy.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade:
    • The Nazis were nowhere near as interested in the occult as the film portrays. Hitler especially thought it was nonsense and insisted that National Socialism was rational and scientific, contrary to what the film claims about him. Individual Nazis who were occult fans like Heinrich Himmler and Alfred Rosenberg had zero interest in recovering Jewish artefacts like the Ark of the Covenant, but instead wanted to validate their Neo-Pagan Nordic beliefs as well as to fund expeditions to Tibet (partly due to their being interested in Asian mysticism). Even these expeditions were led by a rationalist scientist named Ernst Schaefer who was more interested in collecting animal and plant samples for study than in validating any of Himmler's pseudoscientific theories. That said, the Nazis were interested in any ancient religious artefacts that they could get their hands on, but purely for their propaganda value — as evidenced by the Holy Lance.
    • The film is set in 1936, before World War II broke out and when Germany was still insecure in its military, yet the Germans have a secret submarine base in Greece and can freely mount archaeological expeditions in British-occupied Egypt backed by plenty of soldiers who are openly wearing German uniforms and parading the Swastika. Had anything like the events of this film actually happened at this time, the British and likely the French would probably have declared war on Germany immediately.note 
  • Hollywood Density: The gold idol at the start of the film, which should weigh far too much to be toted around as easily as it is, let alone weigh about the same as a small bag of sand. When Indy looks at it, he actually removes sand from his bag to approximate its weight. A solid gold object of that size would weigh about 27 lb / 12 kg. However, it's never explicitly stated that the idol is indeed solid gold.
  • Hollywood Natives: The Hovitos in the Chased by Angry Natives opening, complete with blowguns, spears and a nasty attitude.
  • Holy Is Not Safe: The Nazis succeed in their goal of smuggling the Ark out of Egypt, but its power turns out to be too great for them to harness. In the climax, all of the villains—Dietrich, Toht, Belloq, and all of their Mooks—are struck dead, melted alive or otherwise smited by the Ark's power as soon as they open it.
  • Hot for Teacher: Indy has to deal with this back at the university, and manages to take the high road.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Toht dismissively accuses Americans of overdressing for the wrong situations... while wearing a three-piece black suit, complete with black leather overcoat and black hat... in the middle of the desert.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: During the shootout in her bar, Marion helps herself to some alcohol after a barrel gets shot through.
  • Immune to Drugs:
    • Not drugs, per se, but Marion's ability to drink seasoned heavyweights under the table comes up twice. She doesn't even come across tipsy either time. This is especially impressive the first time, when her opponent passes out and it takes her more than one trip just to move all the shot glasses she used back to the bar.
    • Unfortunately for Marion, Belloq has the same superpower, at least where his family's eau-de-vie is concerned.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: "Adios, Satipo." Forrestal, a rival of Indy's bit it to the same trap years before, leaving his remains as a Peek-a-Boo Corpse. Indy's scout suffers the same fate.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms:
    • Various soldiers and other armed militants are equipped with Walther P38 pistols or MP40 submachine guns, guns that did not exist in 1936. The MP40 was first produced in 1940 and the P38 was first produced in 1938.
    • Indy is at two separate points seen with variations of the Browning Hi-Power; the first time, in the bar shoot-out, is a bit of a stretch but still at least possible (the weapon had entered production the year before, though at the time every one of them was for military contracts, on top of FN reaching an agreement with Colt to not sell the pistol in the United States). The second time on the Bantu Wind is pure Anachronism Stew, however—he's using a Canadian variant, the Inglis Hi-Power (distinguished by a noticeable hump below the rear sight) that didn't enter production until 1944.
    • German soldiers use Mauser Karabiner 98k rifles, introduced in 1935, so it is conceivable they could be out of the country by 1936, but they would more likely carry the Mauser Gewehr 98 at that time.
    • Near the climax of the movie, Jones is seen holding a Soviet RPG-2 rocket launcher, which was not produced until 1949. Such shoulder-fired rocket launchers didn't even exist in 1936; they came about during the war to replace the older anti-tank rifles.
  • Indy Escape: Indy running from the rolling boulder.
  • Indy Ploy: Lampshaded. Indiana Jones is, of course, the Trope Namer.
    Indiana: Meet me at Omar's. Be ready for me. I'm going after that truck.
    Sallah: How?
    Indiana: I don't know, I'm making this up as I go!
  • In the Back: Indy escapes from the temple to find Satipo's friend hit with numerous darts to the back.
  • Island Base: An island in the Aegean Sea is the site of a secret Nazi U-Boat base.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: Oberst Hermann Dietrich is in charge of the quest for The Ark of the Covenant, but his advisor, Dr. Rene Belloq, is Indiana Jones' long-time nemesis. Indiana also sees Dietrich as just another Nazi among many, but Belloq as what Indy himself could have become with no moral scruples.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Belloq is absolutely right that Indy could have walked out with the idol at the start if he'd bothered to ingratiate himself with the natives. And also that in this case there is really nothing separating Indy from him. What actually makes them different comes up later, as Indy would never associate himself with Nazi Germany for profit and glory.
  • Jump Scare: During the uncovering of the Well of Souls, lightning flashes to reveal the snarling face of an Anubis statue which startles Sallah.
  • Jungles Sound Like Kookaburras: An Australian kookaburra sound can be heard in the Action Prologue when Indy is looking for treasure in the Amazon.
  • Just Plane Wrong:
    • Indy flies out of San Francisco on a Short Solent 3, first flown in 1946, which makes stopovers at Honolulu (Hawaii), Wake Island, Manila (Philippines) and finally arriving at Nepal (possibly Kathmandu). All of these non-stop flight stretches (ranging from 2,300-3,000 miles) are way too long for the Short Solent's maximum range of approximately 1800 miles (the Solent was representing the Martin M-130 China Clipper, which crashed in 1945. Its range was 3,200 miles, for reference). And unless Indy caught a connecting flight in Manila, he couldn't have taken the Solent 3 to Kathmandu; the Solent, like the M-130, was a flying boat—it has no landing gear so it can't land on a conventional runway.
    • Indy and Marion travel from Nepal to Egypt on a Douglas DC-3. The DC-3 first flew on December 17, 1935, and the first ones were delivered in 1936. Most of the 300–400 DC-3s in service were flying for American, Eastern, United, and TWA airlines in 1936, and it would have been highly unlikely to find one flying between Nepal to Egypt then. It also makes stopovers at Karachi (Pakistan, which was part of British-controlled India in 1936), Baghdad (Iraq) and finally arriving in Cairo. With the exception of the Baghdad-Cairo stretch (about 800 miles), all of these flight stretches (which range from 1,200 to 1,500 miles) are way too long for the DC-3's maximum range of approximately 1,000 miles.
    • The Flying Wing was invented for the film and would never have flown — its design is completely wrong from an aerodynamic perspective. It's based on a combination of two prototypes, one German and the other American — the Horten Ho 229 (a jet-powered fighter-bomber developed for the Luftwaffe in the later stages of World War II, although they only got round to flying a glider prototype) and the propeller-driven Northrop YB-35 (which first flew in 1946).
  • Karma Houdini: The evil eyepatch-wearing owner of the monkey vanishes from the film unscathed. The monkey isn't as lucky.
  • Karmic Death: Delivered en masse to Belloq and the entire Nazi group that searched the Ark, who end up being wiped out by the very thing they wanted to use as a weapon of mass destruction. For additional karma, it was the Jewish deity that carried out this deed.
  • Kick the Dog: Frustrated after losing the Ark to Indy, Colonel Dietrich throws an offered watermelon from a merchant at an off-screen dog.
  • Kill It with Fire: Indy used this to clear out the snakes in the Well Of Souls by pouring gasoline all over them and lighting it.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Major Toht threatens Marion with a hot poker. Later, in the bar, he tries to grab the medallion in the fire and gets his hand burned, and much later, he suffers a painful death involving fire from God.
    • There is also the guide who abandoned Indy and ran off with the statue and is soon impaled by one of the traps in the temple.
  • Lecture as Exposition: The Infodump when Jones meets the government men. It has become so iconic that George Lucas refers to it as "the pointer scene".
  • Like a Son to Me: According to Marion Ravenwood, this is what her father Abner thought about Indy, "the most gifted bum [Abner] ever trained".
  • Liquid Courage: During the shootout at Marion's inn, a barrel gets pierced by a bullet and loses liquor which Marion takes a sip from before jumping into action.
  • Look Behind You: Indy does it to the Giant Mook mechanic he fights near the plane, then follows it up with a Groin Attack.
  • Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: When Marion is dumped into the tomb, she manages to hold on to a statue but loses a shoe during the fall which lands amidst a heap of poisonous snakes.
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: It happens twice in the movie — first with the idol in the Amazon and then with the Ark itself — that Indy runs all the risks to retrieve a valuable artifact, only for Belloq to be waiting at the entrance to take it off him.
    Belloq: Again, Dr. Jones, what was briefly yours is now mine.
  • Made of Incendium: Marion's bar catches fire incredibly quickly. Granted, it appears to be mostly wood construction with quite a bit of cloth, but unless her patrons are extremely rowdy and make a habit of spilling whole bottles' worth of her very highest-proof spirits (most liquors are not flammable) absolutely everywhere to make the fire spread as quickly as it does, there's no reason the entire structure should have burned down other than Rule of Cool.
  • Magic Countdown: During the opening scene in the dungeon, when the stone door is about to close down in front of Indy, time seems to stand still until Indy manages to sneak through under the door.
  • Man on Fire: Indy sets one of Toht's men on fire in the bar shoot-out. The guy runs around screaming for several seconds before Indy gives him a Boom, Headshot!.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": All the German characters and Belloq after the Ark is opened and the spirits turn on them.
  • Match Cut: The Paramount logo in the beginning transitions into a mountain from South America.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: The Nazis finally get their hands on the Ark but Belloq wants to ensure it's real. The resulting ritual ends up killing him and his team.
  • Men Can't Keep House: Indy's house is better than most but still disorganized and disheveled and when he and Marcus have a drink to celebrate Indy going after the Ark the glasses are mismatched.
  • Mobstacle Course: Indy does this to chase Marion-in-a-basket.
  • Moment Killer: Indy and Marion share a Big Damn Kiss during Indy's After-Action Patch-Up - and then Indy conks out from exhaustion.
    Marion: We never seem to get a break, do we?
  • Monochrome Apparition: White specters appear when the Ark is opened.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Indy and Sallah are jubilant when they realize that Belloq has incorrect information due to only having part of the information describing the staff of Ra, and thus the location in the map room. The mood suddenly chills when Sallah barely saves Indy from being poisoned seeing the dead monkey holding a half-eaten date.
    • When the spirits first come out of the ark, Belloq exclaims "It's beautiful!" Indeed, the spirits are rather serene...until they turn really angry. Cue harsh music, screaming, and faces melting.
  • Mook–Face Turn: The Giant Mook Indy grapples with in Marion's bar gives a very startled "HUH?" when Toht orders for both him and Indy to be killed, and immediately helps Indy gun down his Nazi lieutenant. It doesn't last very long since they continue fighting once that's done.
  • Mook Horror Show: God, in His righteous fury, slaughters all of the Nazis by piercing the soldiers with beams of light, then imploding Dietrich's head, melting Toht's skin off, and exploding Belloq's head, as punishment for arrogantly disrespecting the Ark, and for their plans to use it for their selfish needs.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Zig-zagged. When Indy reaches the secret Nazi sub base, he quickly knocks out a guard and takes his uniform... which is so ill-fitting on him that he can't even button it. Worse, he's quickly set upon by a German sergeant... who seems to accept Indy as a fellow soldier and merely berates him for his shoddy uniform. But the sergeant is starting to ask questions... so Indy knocks him out as well and puts on his uniform, which fits perfectly.
  • Native Guide: Downplayed, but Indy is accompanied by two shady local guides during the opening quest set in the Peruvian jungle.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles:
    • Indy sees Marion getting carried off in a straw basket, and chases her into the square—which is crammed with people carrying identical baskets. He just goes for knocking them all open until he hears her shouting elsewhere.
    • At the end of the movie, the Ark is put in a nondescript wooden crate and hidden in a warehouse full of other identical, nondescript wooden crates.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: Especially when the actor with the gun is sick and wants to get the scene over with. A Master Swordsman approaches Indy, elaborately showing off his skills with his scimitar. Indy doesn't entertain the idea of duelling the swordsman at all, and instead casually pulls out his pistol and shoots him dead.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • An early trailer shows one of the booby traps protecting the Golden Idol, but makes it seem that this is in fact protecting the Ark itself.
    • The trailers and merchandise make Toht out to be the sole Big Bad of the film while Belloq rarely got mentioned. While he is part of the Big Bad Duumvirate with Belloq, the latter has had more of a presence as an antagonist.
  • Newspaper-Thin Disguise: A Nazi agent played by Dennis Muren, one of the men behind Industrial Light & Magic, follows Indy on his flight from America, watching him from behind a copy of Life magazine. This unnamed character is sometimes mistaken for Major Toht.
  • Nightmare Face: One of the spirits to emerge from the Ark puts on a skeletal, pissed-off Ghostly Gape while snarling directly at the camera. And let's not forget Toht's infamous melting face.
  • No Body Left Behind: After the opening of the Ark kills Belloq, Toht, and Dietrich and the entire Nazi batallion gathered, the fires raging from the Ark sweeps up all the corpses, leaving no trace of them left behind when the dust settles.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Marion's captivity with Belloq.
  • Nonviolent Initial Confrontation: Belloq telling Indy they're not so different in the Arab bar.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Discussed when Indy and Satipo enter the Golden Idol temple.
    Satipo: We must hurry. There is nothing to fear here.
    Indy: That's what scares me.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Belloq makes occasional references to sharing Jones' devotion to archaeology. He even deduces that Jones won't destroy the Ark because, just like Belloq himself, he can't resist knowing what's inside.
  • Novelization: The film was novelised by Campbell Black. The book, which adds a few extra details (see above), actually came out before the film. More details here.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Several characters use the Nazis' racist nature against them:
    • Sallah is the smart and competent head of "the best digging crew in Egypt" but he acts like a bumbling buffoon several times around the Nazis, usually to keep them from finding out what Indy is up to, making the digger seem Beneath Notice.
    • Captain Katanga seems well aware that the Nazis will see a black man like him as being little more than a barbarian and pirate. He plays up the stereotype to protect Indy and Marian, claiming he killed the former so they won't search the ship for him and that he plans to sell Marian into sexual slavery in an attempt to keep the Nazis from taking her. The latter doesn't work but, he's got a great deal of nerve for being able to lie right to their faces and get away with it.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Marion has one when she sees Toht approaching her with the red-hot poker from her bar's fire.
    Marion: You don't need that. Wait. I'll tell you everything.
    Toht: [grinning while bringing the poker towards her face] Yes. I know you will.
    • Indy's reaction when he sees the huge Nazi mechanic challenging him to a fight is more the style of This Is Gonna Suck. But at the end, Indy and the mechanic himself are definitely in Oh, Crap! mode just before the latter is sliced to ribbons by the propeller.
    • Indy and Marion during said fight when they see the spilled petrol spreading towards the fire in the distance.
  • On Second Thought: When Marion gets thrown into the tomb with Indy, she first catches a statue, then when she falls from the statue he catches her in his arms before she hits the floor. She angrily throws herself out of his arms, but when she sees the swarm of snakes she decides that being off the floor was the better choice after all and climbs on top of Indy.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Jock's first line has something resembling an Aussie accent. His second line doesn't.
  • Our Angels Are Different: They don't have wings or legs and are transparent like ghosts, but are otherwise fairly humanoid looking, until they put on their Game Face and utterly destroy you for defying God's will.
  • Pedal-to-the-Metal Shot: A couple of shots of different characters stepping on the gas while driving the truck in the convoy Chase Scene.
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: There are a few of these throughout the movie, the first one is when Indy triggers a spike trap, revealing the body of a Doomed Predecessor. The second one is the body of Indy's treacherous guide who fell into the same trap. The third one is in the Well of Souls when Marion explores the other chamber only to discover that the room is filled with screaming rotting corpses.
  • Perpetual Storm: After an Egyptian pharaoh took the Ark of the Covenant to the city of Tanis, the city was destroyed by a sandstorm that lasted an entire year (note that this did not occur in Real Life).
  • Pillar of Light: During the climax, the ark shoots a fire beam into the night sky.
  • Plank Gag: Marion smashing Indy in the face with the two-way mirror. The scream from Indy that follows makes it all the funnier.
  • Plummet Perspective: In the temple, when Satipo dangerously swings across an abyss, stones are falling towards the camera shooting the scene from below.
  • Posthumous Character: Abner Ravenwood, Marion's father, Indy's field mentor, and the man who unearthed the headpiece to the Staff of Ra. He died in an avalanche, of which only Marion knows.
  • Post-Kiss Catatonia: When Marion kisses Sallah goodbye, he stands stunned for a few seconds, before smiling broadly and walking off set, boisterously singing, "A British tar is a soaring soul, as free as a mountain bird..."
  • Psycho for Hire: Major Toht the Gestapo officer who's a Bad Boss to his mooks and is positively giddy about torturing people for information.
  • Punch Catch: During Indy's fight with the Giant Mook at the airstrip, Indy throws a punch but the big man catches it and throws his own punch.
  • Punch-Clock Hero: Unlike the government officials who hire him, Indy primarily wants to recover the Ark for its historical value, and to prevent his rival Belloq from obtaining it, and doesn't seem to believe it has supernatural powers that could be weaponized by the Nazis.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Belloq similarly wants the Ark for his own reasons, believing it's a vehicle for communicating with God. Still, just like Jones, he's technically a Hired Gun.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Indy gets in the first punches in his fight with the giant German mechanic, but they have little effect. His first punch knocks Indy to the ground.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Top. Men." It's used to make it clear that who the top men are won't be revealed—because, of course, there aren't any; as the end credits roll, we can clearly see that the Ark has been boxed up and stored in a huge warehouse.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: In the US releases this applies. Zigzagged in the Japanese Trilogy Box Laserdisc, where the German lines are subtitled, but other languages aren't.
    • Belloq speaks to the Hovitos in their native language, presumably telling them how great he is to have retrieved their holy object.
    • While Indy and Sallah are infiltrating the Nazi archaeological dig, German soldiers repeatedly speak in German to them. Mostly they are asking Sallah to get them some water.
    • While Indy, Sallah and the Egyptian workers are digging up and opening the Well of Souls, the workers sing a work song in Arabic and Sallah repeatedly speaks to the workers in Arabic to supplement Indy's instructions, all with no translation.
    • While Indy is trying to capture the Nazi Flying Wing, the huge guard calls out to him in German. He is daring Indy to fight him.
    • While Indy is trying to steal the truck carrying the Ark of the Covenant, the German officer gives orders to his men in the back of the truck in German.
    • During the U-boat's journey to the island, the Nazi sailors aboard talk to each other in German.
    • Once the U-boat arrives at the island, the soldiers in the port and a PA system speak in German.
    • After Indy sneaks into the secret Nazi island base, he performs a Mugged for Disguise on a Nazi soldier for the purpose of Dressing as the Enemy. Before he's completely dressed a Nazi officer discovers him and starts criticizing him (in untranslated German) because he's out of uniform.
    • During the ceremony where the Ark is opened, Belloq speaks ceremonial words in Aramaic (with mangled pronunciation).
  • Reasoning with God: Belloq tells Indy that the Ark is a "transmitter" and a "radio for speaking to God"; presumably his intense desire to open it before it reaches Hitler is so he can have his own personal tete-a-tete with the Almighty. He never considered the fact that God might not be so interested in hearing what's on his mind ... though he probably did get his conversation with God in the end.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Indy and Belloq, respectively.
  • Retronym: Was originally released as just Raiders of the Lost Ark, but once Indiana Jones became an established series with a title scheme, this title was changed to match.
  • Revealing Reflection: As Indy is driving the truck carrying the Lost Ark of the Covenant, he looks in his rear-view mirrors and sees German soldiers climbing along the outside of the truck toward the cab so they can attack him.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Belloq. It is established early on that he is not just another competitor of Indy; he wants him dead. In their first onscreen interaction, he tries to have Indy killed by the Hovitos. He is willing to put aside his differences with the Nazis because they have a common enemy in Jones.
  • Rule of Scary: Satipo gets skewered by the temple spike trap from behind, making for a more striking visual when Indy finds his corpse. Realistically, if that same trap had killed him as he was running out, it would have pierced him through his right side.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The German plane mechanic knocked out by Indy during the tarmac brawl. After waking up to spilling oil around the plane, the injured technician immediately books it with plenty of time left to avoid the inevitable explosions.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: Belloq seals Indy and Marion in the snake-filled Well of Souls.
  • Second-Face Smoke: Marion does this to Toht. Bad idea.
  • Secret Government Warehouse: Seen at the end of the movie. Later on, in Crystal Skull, the warehouse is revealed to be Area 51.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Oh boy does the pilot of the Flying Wing have it. He fails to notice Indy sneaking around his plane, doesn't hear the first mechanic first challenging Indy or the sounds of the two of them fighting, (a fight which includes the mechanic's wrench hitting the plane, the head of the wrench being cut off by the plane's propeller, and the mechanic being knocked out due in part to getting his head bounced off the plane) but the instant the second mechanic (the Giant Mook) calls out to Indy, the pilot whips around in surprise to see what's going on. See for yourself.
  • Self-Plagiarism: The gag of a torture device that turns out to be a coat hanger was taken from a deleted scene from Spielberg's previous film, 1941.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Indy and the Nazis' fighting over the Ark of the Covenant is rendered moot when the wrath of God completely wipes the latter out once they finally open it, and then the Ark ends up 'buried' once again, this time hidden in a massive warehouse as a victim of indifferent government bureaucracy.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Indy shoots out the lock on the flying wing's cockpit so Marion can escape.
  • Shout-Out:
    • At the scene where Indy and Sallah get the ark, you can see C-3PO and R2-D2 carved on a column behind Indy if you look hard enough.
    • The booby-trapped statue and boulder-chase scene are taken from the Scrooge McDuck comics-story "The Seven Cities of Cibola" by Carl Barks.
    • Sallah sings snippets of two songs from H.M.S. Pinafore, "I am the monarch of the sea" and "A British tar."
    • The plane waiting for Indy at the beginning of the film has a registration number. It's "OB-CPO", an obvious reference to Obi-Wan Kenobi and C-3PO from Star Wars.
    • The plane's starting-up sound is the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive sputtering-out sound.
    • The ending scene, showing the Ark being stored in a crate in a huge warehouse of identical crates, is an homage to the ending of Citizen Kane.
  • Signature Headgear: Indy's hat provides the page illustration for Fedora of Asskicking.
  • Slasher Smile: A rare heroic version of this occurs when Indy uncovers the Well of Souls, though it's intended to prove Belloq's comments about the two men's similarities.
  • Soundtrack Lullaby: After retrieving the ark from the Nazis, Indy is getting an After Action Patch Up from Marion which leads to the two starting to get amorous, the orchestra building up the Love Theme trails off with a celesta as Indy's exhaustion finally catches up with him.
  • Spider Swarm: As Indy and Satipo are exploring the South American temple, Satipo's back becomes covered with tarantulas, which Indy brushes off. Tarantulas are usually solitary.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Title: After the rename, the movie now has the iconic main character in the title as Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • Stab the Salad: When Marion is about to escape from Belloq in the desert, she runs into Toht at the entrance to the tent. She cowers by Belloq while Toht enters with some Nazi guards in tow. He pulls out a black-and-silver bar-and-chain object from his trenchcoat, and shapes it into a triangle that looks like a torture device... Then he hands it off to a guard who hangs his coat on it, revealing that it was a simple coat hanger.
  • Stalling the Sip: Indy picks up a poisoned date and has a lot "near misses" with attempting to eat it. Just as he tosses it in the air to catch in his mouth, he is saved when his friend Sallah catches it mid-air. Sallah had seen that the monkey that was also eating the dates is now lying dead on the floor.
    Sallah: Bad dates.
  • Stock Footage: The footage of the airplane flying over Asia is taken from the 1973 version of Lost Horizon. The Establishing Shot of 1930s Washington, D.C. is from The Hindenburg.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The first major sign that things are going wrong for Belloq, who knows only one man could be causing that much chaos even after Belloq sealed him in the Wells of Souls: "Jones!"
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: A minor case, but that Flying Wing was definitely not in the arsenal of the Luftwaffe at any point in history. They did develope a similar-looking jet-powered prototype towards the end of the war, though.
  • Sundial Waypoint: The purpose of the Map Room scene is to make use of this trope.
  • Super Window Jump: After burning his hand on the headpiece to the Staff of Ra, Toht decides to cut his losses and escapes the burning bar by jumping through the nearest window.
  • Surprisingly Creepy Moment: The film has several suspenseful scenes, and a few bloody deaths, but it's still pretty lighthearted up until the ark ghosts appear and massacre the Nazis complete with exploding heads and melting faces.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: One villain attempts to poison Indy with some substance poured on dates.
  • Tap on the Head:
    • Marion Ravenwood.
      • She takes out a mook with a burning log to the back of the head during the bar fight in Nepal.
      • In Cairo she's pursued into a building by a mook and knocks him out (off camera) with a frying pan.
      • While Indy is fighting the Nazis around the flying wing, she KO's the pilot with the plane's wheel chocks.
    • Indiana Jones knocks out two Nazi guards with the "punch to the jaw" technique to steal their uniforms so he can perform Dressing as the Enemy. In the second of these, there are two clearly audible blows after Dr. Jones hauls the guard over the pile of boxes, so it's "Taps".
  • A Taste of Their Own Medicine:
    • Toht nearly brands Marion with the red-hot iron. He ends up branding his own hand when grabbing the medallion while it was red-hot.
    • On the truck the German sergeant beats Indy senseless, throws him through the windshield, and tries to run him over. Indy returns and delivers the same treatment on the guy, and he's the one who gets runs over.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Shortly after recovering the Ark from the Wells of Souls, Colonel Dietrich is seen drinking and offers Belloq a drink, toasting to "our success in the desert", not knowing that at that very moment Indy is in the middle of trying to spoil their success by hijacking the plane to be used to fly the Ark out. Belloq, for his part, refuses to tempt fate and says that he'll only drink to success "when we are very far from here." Sure enough, Belloq is more pissed than shocked when he finds out that Indy escaped and destroyed their plane.
    • Belloq jubilantly exclaims that the ark spirits are "beautiful". They quickly prove him dead-wrong, revealing themselves to be monstrous Angels of Death.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Usually plays when Indy does something awesome, such as the part where he swings to safety from the angry natives or where he successfully knocks down the statue in the Well of Souls.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: One of Indy's treacherous guides had his back completely riddled with poison darts from the Hovitos.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Well, less "man will go insane from looking inside this artefact" and more "God will send His angels of death to murder the shit out of you and your entire army in extremely gruesome fashion if you look inside the artefact against His will."
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Indy has this reaction when he turns and sees the Giant Mook who's challenging him to a fight at the airfield.
  • Throat-Slitting Gesture: Belloq uses the throat-slash gesture to tell the Hovitos to kill Indy.
  • Timmy in a Well: A rare villanious version. The eye-patched agent in Cairo has a pet monkey. The monkey sees an escaping Marion trying to hide in a basket, jumps on the basket and screeches, calling the German agents to capture her.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Satipo (Alfred Molina), Indy's South American traitorous guide at the beginning. He forgets about the trap Indy discovered minutes earlier and blunders right into it.
    • Throughout the movie, the Nazis make sure not to touch the Ark. Belloq even wears the correct high priest outfit and speaks a Hebrew prayer before they open it. Apparently they missed the passages these precautions come from that explicitly say that if you look into the Ark you will die. Then they forget the passages that say not to touch the Ark when they touch the Ark by removing the lid to open it. This is all on top of the fact that they apparently forget that they're trying to harness the power of an artefact owned by a God whose chosen people they're actively trying to wipe off the face of the earth.
  • Toplessness from the Back: What the audience sees in Belloq's shaving mirror while Marion changes into the dress he brought her.
  • Tribal Face Paint: The Hovitos Indians at the beginning of the movie.
  • Underside Ride: During the truck chase, Indy gets thrown out of the windshield of his truck. He manages to grab onto the grille, but the driver attempts to crush him using the car ahead. To avoid this, Indy hangs on to the bottom of the truck, lets himself down to the back, and climbs back on.
  • Vapor Trail: Happens by accident during the scene with the flying wing due to a series of minor mistakes. Marion unchocks the wheel of the flying wing to use the chocks as a weapon against a Mook, and the plane starts to turn in place and its wingtip punctures a fuel truck. Next, Marion uses the plane's machine gun turret to keep Nazi reinforcements at bay and stuff catches fire. The fuel pouring out of the truck eventually reaches the blaze, Indy rescues Marion and they run for cover, and then the whole airstrip explodes.
  • Watching the Reflection Undress: Marion steps behind a screen to change into the dress provided by Belloq but he (and the audience) just happens to have a shaving mirror positioned so that he can watch her change behind the screen.
  • A Way Out of a Cave-In: Indy finds the hidden room in the Well of Souls by noticing that the snakes are coming into the main room from holes along one wall.
  • We Have Reserves: During the Nepal bar brawl, Indy is struggling against one of Toht's burly mooks. Toht, however, tells one of his other mooks to "Shoot them. Shoot them both." This has the hilarious effect of making both Indy and the big mook stop fighting over a gun for a moment in order to shoot the other mook who is about to shoot both of them. After killing the other mook together Indy and the first mook go right back to fighting each other again.
  • Weight and Switch: After dodging a floor full of pressure traps to get to the idol, Indy guesses that the idol itself might be on another one, so he swaps it for a bag he's filled with sand to approximately the same weight. After a moment when it seems to have worked, the pedestal holding the sand bag sinks and the entire temple starts to collapse.
  • We Meet Again: Line said by Toht when he comes to "interview" Marion in the dig-site tent.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Toht introduces himself to Belloq with a "Heil Hitler" salute, revealing the imprint of the medallion burned into his hand.
    • While the Ark sits inside a Nazi crate during transport, a lingering shot of the crate's exterior shows the swastika gracing it burn off with a blue flame. This is the first unambiguously supernatural occurrence in the film, and doubles as foreshadowing for what the Nazis have in store when they decide to open the Ark.
    • After the feds have taken possession of the Ark against Indy's objections, it's sealed in a nondescript crate and wheeled into the ginormous warehouse among thousands upon thousands of identical nondescript crates.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Trope Namer. The Well of Souls is completely crawling in a carpet of snakes.
    Indiana: Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?
    Sallah: Asps. Very dangerous. You go first.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: The soldiers on the truck would've stopped Indy easily by just shooting at him through the truck's paneling that separated them, instead of trying to climb along the exterior to get at him. But then the film would've been deprived of one of filmdom's most famous action scenes.
  • Wilhelm Scream: Twice. First by the Nazi who falls out of the back of the truck and puts his head through Gobler's windshield, and again by a different Nazi when falling off the side of the speeding truck.
  • Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing: Indiana Jones has nothing to do with the defeat of the Nazis at the end of the movie. He and Marion just shut their eyes and the Nazis are destroyed by the sight of the power of God when they open the Ark. It is one of the most literal examples of Deus ex Machina since the middle ages, and a completely justified one.
  • Worthy Opponent: Just before entering the temple at the beginning, Indy mentions a competitor, Forrestal, who died here. Unlike Belloq, Forrestal seemed to be a legitimate archeologist, and Indy's tone indicates he had a good deal of respect for him. When Indy finds Forrestal's body impaled on the spike trap, he identifies him in a hushed tone. The novelization states that Indy liked Forrestal, and was pained by the thought Forrestal was killed here.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: While translating the inscriptions on the headpiece of the Staff of Ra, the Imam initially says the staff should be "six kadam high", or "about seventy-two inches", as Indy notes. However, the Imam then says "And take back one kadam to honor the Hebrew god whose ark this is". So, the staff has to be 5 kadam or about 60 inches (5 feet) long. Nevertheless, when Indy is seen using the staff, it's much taller than him (Harrison Ford is around 6 feet tall). If the Imam had said "add on" rather than "take back", this would make sense.
  • The X of Y: Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Why Dietrich has Toht throw Marion into the Well of Souls.
    Belloq: The girl was mine!
    Dietrich She's of no use to us. Only our mission for the Fuhrer matters.
  • You Must Be Cold: Belloq covers Marion with his jacket when she stands freezing in her nightgown on the windy boat deck.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Belloq, at the end of the film.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Belloq calls Indy's bluff to destroy the ark with a rocket launcher if they didn't hand over Marion to him.

Alternative Title(s): Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark


Indy's deadly dodging

During the fight in Cairo, a bad guy attempts to stab Indy with his sword. Indy dodges the attack, causing him to stick a second bad guy with the blade.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / DeadlyDodging

Media sources: